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Dave Jarvis

In a real life 'Escape to the Country', Dave Jarvis and his family were able to go from Harlesden to Hessenford in Cornwall, thanks in part to their garden office from Rooms Outdoor.

Dave's story echoes that of many London families. As a result of two successful creative businesses built up by husband and wife during the late 90's, the couple had become victims of their own success, working long hours, commuting in London rush hour and trying to juggle the commitments of a young family. However unlike many who just dream of country living, the Jarvis family made the bold decision to go back to their Cornish roots and swap the daily grind for a better quality of life.

'Although our businesses were highly successful' says Dave, 'our quality of life was fast deteriorating, and we had perpetual worries of increased red tape, responsibility of employees as well as schooling had become a major preoccupation. We had decided that a move to Cornwall should become a reality, but realised that in doing so we really had to plan the way forward for our businesses'.


The couple found a suitable house close to family and in the right area relatively quickly, but it wasn't able to provide them with the room they required for their creative workspace.  They realised that a garden office in place of a dilapidated garage could possibly provide the solution.

'We were very conscious that as we were scaling down our business and moving out of London, the garden office should provide us both with a good working environment but also somewhere that would reflect our own professionalism and creativity. We were particularly anxious that we should keep away from anything that might say 'cottage industry'. Although we were downscaling we didn't want our client base to downscale with us.

'We selected Rooms Outdoor following an extensive internet search and were impressed immediately with the contemporary design features that we just didn't feel were matched by other competitors. We particularly liked the Cuberno and selected this model as the basis for our design'.

The Jarvis' new home was based in a Conservation area (note the planning rules changed in October 2008 meaning this project would not require planning approval if it were to be carried out now) so some modifications were requested by the planning office to help the office blend with local buildings. The original Cuberno design has a flat roof while the amended design was given a Cornish slate pitch roof. Sliding doors the length of the office lead on to a porch which was added as a useful feature for poor weather.

'Everything about the new office has lived up to and even exceeded our expectations. The build was extremely quick, even though it was done in the depths of winter and the quality of the building is excellent. We are really pleased with the pitch roof as it has allowed us to use the office as a photography studio. We have a grid of four velux windows and this provides excellent lighting for studio shots. We have also found the office to be extremely energy efficient and warm even in winter.

'Due to the nature of our business we also specified a large cabinet for our computer server and we have a wireless network installed serving all parts of the house as well as the office. The office is a complete contrast to the house but in fact the two have blended very harmoniously. We have taken the colour from the trim of the office and used it in the exterior paint of the house, and landscaping has brought the two buildings together very successfully. The front deck is a popular seating area when we entertain friends in the garden.

'We financed the garden office as an integral part of our house move and although it would have been easy to cut corners and reduce costs we felt that it was important to see it as an important investment for us and for our business. It has really made financial sense. We are sure it has added value to the property with the increase in people working from home now. But more importantly, the office cost us around two years' office rent in London so in just two years we will have recouped the investment. As well as this I have calculated that we're saving about a day and a half of time per week that we used to waste in traffic - not to mention the congestion charge! The office is now just 20 yards from the house but it is an important distance as it helps create a complete distinction between work and home. If we hadn't built it we would have been trying to work in the attic and creatively this just would not have worked.

'We've been delighted by the reaction of our clients. We work with some really big brand names and the office has certainly given our business the 'wow' factor. When clients come for meetings they can see that we gain much of the inspiration for our creative work from our work environment and I think there is definitely envy for our lifestyle!'

The Jarvis's creative businesses can be seen at www.skim.co.uk and www.adamspicturelibrary.com.

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